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The Invisible University for Ukraine (IUFU) at Central European University (Austria) is the Second-Place Prize winner of the 2024 MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. The Invisible University for Ukraine (IUFU) is a student-led hybrid academic program in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Through accredited online courses, immersive in-person seminars, and a vibrant peer learning community, IUFU empowers Ukrainian students to continue their studies and pursue their aspirations, regardless of their location or circumstances. With a focus on complementing existing educational infrastructure, IUFU strengthens ties between Ukrainian institutions and global networks, countering the effects of brain drain. With students at the forefront of program design and delivery, IUFU cultivates resilience, academic excellence, and the development of future leaders in the face of adversity.

“Within the Invisible University for Ukraine community, we are very honored to receive the Second Place Prize of the MacJannet Award. For us, it is about small changes on a big scale and the significance of students in the life of universities. Our project lives by students – not only because their studies are at the center of our activity, but because those are students’ ideas, thinking, and emotions that run the Invisible University. Nothing would matter without the feeling that young people can oversee their future and education and be a significant influence themselves. We will use the prize to provide research possibilities for young people with exciting and powerful ideas for the research, as this is one of the most important ways to encourage the growth of Ukrainian academic life.”

– Marta Haiduchok, IUFU coordinator and mentor, CEU Masters Student, Department of History, expected graduation June 2024.

The Invisible University for Ukraine emerged as a collaborative effort among scholars, aiming to extend the university’s academic environment to Ukrainian students and scholars following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Recognizing the importance of involving Ukrainian experts, the program seeks to establish a global platform for scholarly dialogue amidst the ongoing conflict. 

Initially, the program focused on facilitating dialogue between students and distinguished scholars, led by CEU scholars in collaboration with recent graduates. However, it evolved to incorporate active students into coordination roles, putting students at the center of the program. Students began to develop new courses based on feedback gathered during summer and winter schools, and now, over four semesters, six student-initiated courses have been introduced, reflecting a student-oriented approach aligned with participants’ concerns and academic interests. Coordination is now overseen by former and current students, ensuring representation from each cohort. 

Operating primarily online via the Moodle platform, IUFU utilizes academic resources and organizational tools. Additionally, an annual on-site winter/summer school is conducted at the CEU Budapest campus, accommodating over 30 selected participants. 

IUFU courses cater to students across academic levels, fostering dialogue through panel discussions and co-teaching arrangements. The program’s main goal is to sustain the process of knowledge-making and prepare students for postwar reconstruction within Ukraine’s education system. It acknowledges the significance of educational reforms both locally and globally, staying attuned to decolonial shifts in Ukrainian studies and evolving institutional practices worldwide. 

The reconstruction period presents an opportunity to enhance the higher education sector with international aid and expertise. IUFU envisages that alumni of the program will shape future universities, courses, and structures, leveraging their experiences to contribute to the educational landscape. 

Established as a platform for scholarly exchange, IUFU embodies CEU’s commitment to academic excellence and global engagement. By empowering students and scholars amidst adversity, the program strives to foster resilience, innovation, and the advancement of knowledge within Ukraine and beyond. Learn more here